What specialty items and services should be available in an Adult Family Home in the Shoreline area?

Perhaps the single most interesting facet of life in an Adult Family Home (versus life in a Nursing Home) is the maximum allowed number of residents. A mere six residents are allowed, at least in the state of Washington. Beyond six, it is not allowed to offer its services as an Adult Family Home, and that limit makes for a number of advantages. It also allows a lot more flexibility in the services it offers to each and every resident.

Food flexibility in an Adult Family Home versus a Nursing Home

It’s no coincidence that the words ‘Family’ and ‘Home’ are both in the legal description of an Adult Family Home. ‘Family’ means it is definitely more like family living because each person’s needs can be catered to more directly. As we age, the food we eat is often one of the most important events of the day. Our eyesight might be failing, our back aching, and many of the joys we used to enjoy are no longer available, so food can still be very much enjoyed.

My father, as he aged into his eighties, had serious eyesight trouble because of decades of type 1 diabetes. He had a number of health complaints that restricted what he could and couldn’t enjoy any more, but he sure loved meal time. In his final years, his day revolved around his meal timetable, and he very much enjoyed each and every bite. In fact, his very last act was to take a spoonful of soup to his mouth. Not to be too macabre about it, I just mention that because a good Adult Family Home will offer great flexibility in individual dietary needs. As I age, I find my appetite for meat has diminished. I’m not yet vegetarian, but I probably eat meat only once a week now, if you don’t count eggs as meat. If I were living in a residence where I had no control over my diet, and was served meat every day, I think it would impact my sense of well-being. I’ve gotten fussy about what what I eat – or rather, what I don’t want to eat – and I imagine as I get older, I’m only going to become more fussy.

Food flexibility in an Adult Family Home means eating what gives you a continued sense of well being. With only six residents on board, it should be easy enough to cater to the needs of each individual. Most of the time, most of the residents will be satisfied with what each other is eating, so it takes little extra effort on behalf of the Adult Family Home to offer food flexibility for the exceptions.

Safety and security in many forms

Where elderly people live, it is often assumed, there are prescription drugs. This is one of the reasons it’s important to have complete control over who visits and who might have access to the residence. By Washington State law, every overnighting resident who has access to the Adult Family Home must have a background check. For example, suppose the Adult Family Home you are considering has an adjoining accommodation area which was rented out to a third party, for example a couple. If they have a shared entrance – which means they too have access to the Adult Family Home part of the dwelling – they must also have background checks. This makes it impractical to rent out part of the dwelling to non Adult Family Home residents, and it’s not so common, but it’s a good thing to ask about if the dwelling houses others.

Another big set of features in an Adult Family Home is the numerous safety aspects which can be in place. Pressure pads to signal that a resident has gotten (or fallen) out of bed is a great way for the caretakers to become aware that there is movement in the residence. Bathrooms are places that would normally present safety challenges for a number of reasons. Water on tiled floors can be slippery, and a senior with unsure footing might be more likely to fall victim to it. Grip mats, railings, and emergency call mechanisms all reduce the risk of such a fall. So too does good lighting help. Many elderly – with perhaps diminished eyesight – can see perfectly clearly under excellent lighting. A good Adult Family Home will have plenty of excellent lighting available, even if it is rarely used.

‘Wake Staff’ increases safety, peace of mind

Wake Staff are caregivers who stay overnight in their capacity of the work they do. They might not be actually awake the entire time, but they will always be in a position to respond to any situation or emergency in the early hours of the morning. They say that ‘nothing good happens between midnight and four in the morning’, and perhaps nowhere is the adage more true than in an Adult Family Home. Having someone close by adds significantly to the feeling and reality of safety and security for your loved one when or if a problem surfaces in the middle of the night.

Many caregivers working in an Adult Family Home are actually retired registered nurses. That means they are more than qualified and experienced to deal with the occasional emergency in an Adult Family Home. What’s more, it obviates the need to call an ambulance in the majority of cases, and makes available expertise care within moments, instead of having to wait for help to find the home and make their way inside. They also are likely to know everything they need to know about the resident, right down to their medications regimen, without having to chase down medical records or rely on what other residents might offer, which can be the case if an ambulance is called. Imagine a simple case where a diabetic’s sugar is too low and they are at an immediate risk. An experienced registered nurse will know what to do immediately, with no fuss.

When you are considering which Adult Family Home to choose, consider food, safety, wake staff and general background of the caregiver staff. You’ll get all your answers there.

More next week!